PITTSBURGH, July 31, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During a public hearing today in Pittsburgh and at a press conference and rally, elected officials, health experts, labor leaders, industry leaders, and environmental advocates highlighted the public health benefits of the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed carbon pollution standard for existing power plants as they urged Pennsylvanians to pledge support for action against climate change and in support of the EPA's Clean Power Plan.
"We are at an opportune moment in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania's history where we can choose our direction. We can rely on aging electrical grid systems and inefficient sources of energy that pollute our air and water. Or, we can encourage innovation, improve performance and enhance our quality of life," said Mayor William Peduto of Pittsburgh.
"Confronting climate change is the most important public health challenge of this century. The Clean Power Plan is a four-fold win: We gain better health, reduce rapidly-rising health care costs, lessen pressures on the debt by containing federal and state expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid and, most importantly, we take a vital step toward dealing with climate change," said Dr. Alan Lockwood of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
"The EPA's Clean Power Plan presents a unique opportunity to make a real difference in the energy future of our region and country. The Plan recognizes that expanded use of reliable, affordable, renewable power is a critical tool in reducing carbon emissions from power plants, and we welcome the opportunity to be a part of the solution. We look forward to working with the EPA and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as we move toward implementation of this important energy policy," said Jim Spencer, president and CEO of Everpower Wind Holdings.
"EPA's Clean Power Plan is a necessary step to reduce our climate impacts, and the benefits of this action will have ancillary benefits to Pennsylvania's citizens through improved health, better conservation and environmental resources, and a reduction in harm to our air, water, and land which, next to our people, are among our greatest resources," said Cindy Dunn, president and CEO of PennFuture.
"Pennsylvanians want the healthier communities and prosperous economy the Clean Power Plan aims to deliver. This plan is an opportunity for our state leaders to build more job-creating renewable energy like wind and solar power, securing cleaner air and a brighter future for Pennsylvania's children," said Joanne Kilgour, director of the Sierra Club Pennsylvania chapter.
"Moms know that climate pollution is harming our families and communities, and EPA's proposed rule is an important first step in addressing greenhouse gases. The Clean Power Plan can't solve climate change in isolation. As a nation, we'll have to tackle methane leaks from oil and gas production; as a planet, we'll have to forge unprecedented systems of international cooperation," said Gretchen Dahlkemper-Alfonso, national field manager for Moms Clean Air Force.
"We can no longer see the earth as both an infinite resource and as an infinite garbage can. We need to stand together in solidarity and fight for not just good jobs, but also green jobs. Otherwise, what's the point? We can't have jobs on a dead planet," said Marc Mancini of UFCW Local 23.
"Pennsylvania's counties suffered through a staggering 485 dangerous ozone days last year caused by extreme heat reacting will other pollutants from coal-fired power plants. The state needs to take the effects of climate change seriously and disregard its plan to exploit an EPA loophole exempting two-thirds of the CO2 pollution from waste-to-energy plants. Simply put, encouraging waste burning will only encourage waste and increase carbon dioxide emissions," said Russell Zerbo of the Clean Air Council.
Today's hearing comes just weeks after the EPA announced its Clean Power Plan, which will place historic limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Carbon pollution fuels climate change, triggers more asthma attacks and respiratory disease, worsens air quality, and contributes to more frequent, destructive, costly and deadly extreme weather events. The Clean Power Plan will prevent up to 150,000 asthma attacks and 6,600 premature deaths annually by 2030.
The EPA is seeking public comment on the proposed action and is holding regional hearings in Atlanta, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh this week.